Movements + Moments: What if Apple was named TFT?

Take a short journey with me on a thought exercise.

Would Apple Computers be any less successful if they took on the naming philosophy of International Business Machines?

Think about it.

Descriptive: International Business Machines (IBM).
Suggestive: Apple Computers
Alt. Name for Apple: Technology for Teachers (TFT).

If you're wondering why descriptive is bad, as any Trademark Attorney. If you still wonder why, ask any serial entrepreneur if a business change in the first five years. Describe your business when you start and watch it change (Kentucky Fried Chicken and International Business Machines provide us with great examples). If you're still wondering, consider this, "if something is described is it any more memorable than if it leaves you with some curiosity?"

Hence, "descriptive" is a swear word in professional naming circles. Yet, if you look around at the typical naming and branding firms you'll find many use descriptive names (Using Brand or Name in their name). Which makes me wonder what type of advice are they giving clients?

We know three firms who get it and many more who don't.

1. Igor (a firm pushing this exact subject), 2. Catchword 3. 100 Monkeys

It's no wonder why we are seeing way too many descriptive names attempted and too many less than interesting names launched.

Capsule's naming philosophy is embodied in the Setu chair by Herman Miller.

Now, with successful companies (IBM, 3M, KFC, etc) and brands having descriptive names, it may bring the question, "does a great name really matter?" Would Apple be any less a dominant player if it was named Technology for Teachers (TFT). Following the same naming philosophy of the competitive set at the time (ADC, CDC, IBM, etc).

We will make a case for why your answer should be "yes," in our next blog post.

Managing Principal



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